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Top Morning Stories February 25, 2011

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune
Officials at Texas jails worry that proposed state budget cuts to mental health services will mean more mentally ill inmates.

Mental Health Cuts May Strain Jails

Brandi Grissom, of KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, has a write up this morning about how proposed mental health cuts would strain local jails:

As lawmakers consider funding cuts to deal with the state's massive budget shortfall, local officials across Texas are concerned that proposed reductions in community-based mental health treatment will mean more mentally ill Texans are likely to end up on the streets, in emergency rooms and behind bars, where it will cost local taxpayers even more to care for them   

Grissom reports lawmakers are considering budget proposals that would reduce funding for community-based health care services and for community mental hospitals by about $152 million in 2012 and 2013. That would be about a 20 percent reduction from the state's previous budget.

Part of I-35 Closing Again for Construction

Drivers take note: I-35 at Ben White will close down again this weekend.  TX-DOT is continuing work on four new direct connection ramps there.  I-35 southbound at Ben White will close around 10 p.m.  The northbound closures will start around 6 a.m. Saturday.  Traffic will be detoured to the access roads. For the closure TXDOT is waiving tolls on SH 130, SH 45 Southeast and part of SH 45 North from 6 a.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday

APD Officer No Billed in Big Lots Shooting

An Austin police officer who fatally shot a 16 year old last fall has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.  A Travis County Grand Jury yesterday voted not to indict Officer Derrick Bowman.  Bowman fired 14 rounds at Devin Contreras as the teen exited a Big Lots store on William Cannon Drive during a burglary.  Bowman told investigators he thought Contreras had fired first; police later said the teen did not fire.  Dashcam video shows Contreras raising his arms in a shooting stance.  A loaded pistol was found underneath his body.